In a perfect world, anyone who worked with kids would be caring, patient, and kind. Well, that is just not the world we live in. Case in point -- the video released by ESPN showing Rutger's University Basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing players. It's upsetting, to be sure. There are aspects of Rice's behavior that are completely unacceptable, namely the gay slurs and manhandling the players. He clearly needs both sensitivity training and anger management classes. But as dismaying as it appears, I have to wonder if some of Rice's tough love tactics are helpful to certain players. Is he just trying to toughen them up? If so, is that such a terrible thing?
University officials reportedly first learned of the allegations last summer, but only saw the video a few months ago. Rice was initially fined and suspended for three games but with the recent uproar, he was fired today.
Just like everyone else, I was stunned by his behavior at first too. My immediate thought, "What an asshole." But as the mother of a boy, I took a step back and really thought about this situation. Is it possible that being tough on them now can help prepare these kids for the life in the real world? Can it make them stronger or more determined to succeed?
He isn't the first coach to come down hard on his players. I know several athletes who endured harsh treatment by their coaches and they now say that it ultimately helped keep them in line. It provided an authority figure they feared yet respected because they knew he cared about where they ended up. Could this be where Rice is coming from?
I think we need to give him a chance to explain himself. Yes, he needs to reel in the fury. (I swear I thought his head was going to explode at one point.) But perhaps all that rage comes from the fact that he is invested in their success and helping them fulfill not only his dreams, but their own.
Take a look at Rice's behavior:
Do you think Rice should lose his job?